Braintree District Council and Essex County Council are working in partnership to develop a new initiative entitled ‘Livewell Child’ to halt the rise in obesity in primary school children in the district.
The project will initially work with schools within the district that have volunteered to take part, as well as families and the local community, to help support children to have a healthy weight and be more active through play.
Nearby businesses are being urged to help support the campaign by spreading the word and offering healthier choices for families.
The three year programme will be co-designed with families to deliver fun and easy ways for families to make changes which will help them to live well and help to create lifelong lifestyle changes. As well as working with the children and families within the schools involved, residents from the wider district will get to benefit from a range of events, tips and advice about how to live healthier and well during the course of the project.
National figures state that 1:5 children starting reception year are overweight or obese, which rises to 1:3 by the time they leave primary school. Obesity can lead to a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Research shows that children who achieve a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn, and more self-confident.
Councillor Tattersley, Cabinet Member for Health and Communities said: “Research has shown that 22% of children in reception year within our district are overweight or obese with 30% of children in Year 6 being overweight or obese. These figures are growing and are too high.
“We have been working with local schools and families so they can support themselves in leading a healthy lifestyle and to eat healthier foods. With the work we have been doing with local businesses and organisations, we are creating a support network in the local community and we encourage more businesses to come forward with any projects or schemes they are doing which could support this campaign.”
Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health at Essex County Council said that the consequences of obesity in children are “immense”.
“We are continually looking at measures to prevent children from becoming overweight and to support those who are. We are extremely grateful to the schools that have volunteered to take part so far, particularly those who have introduced the Daily Mile scheme, and we are looking forward to supporting the families who are willing to embrace this opportunity to ensure our children grow healthy and happy for the future,” he said.
Children who have healthy breakfasts, take part in physical activity and have healthy food throughout the day tend to more alert and ready to learn – Sean Wade, Headteacher of Howbridge C of E Junior School
Howbridge C of E Junior School is participating in the project. Headteacher Sean Wade said, “We made the decision to take part in Livewell Child because the health and wellbeing of our children is paramount to our school and lays the foundation for children’s development. We find that children who have healthy breakfasts, take part in physical activity and have healthy food throughout the day tend to more alert and ready to learn.”
The innovative project will create opportunities for busy families to take part in and increase their physical activity across the week and to provide tips and ideas about quick, simple and cheaper ways to eat more healthily.